Texas Rangers

Not even Minor, Lynn could overcome Rangers’ defensive lapses. The result? A Twins sweep

Woodward hopes Rangers’ glove issues are temporary

Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward hopes his team snaps out of the fielding woes that hurt them in a four-game sweep to the Minnesota Twins.
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Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward hopes his team snaps out of the fielding woes that hurt them in a four-game sweep to the Minnesota Twins.

The Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers needed 2 hours, 10 minutes Sunday afternoon to complete five innings.

That’s not exactly an ideal pace when the scoreboard thermostat reads 99 degrees.

The two starting pitchers Sunday combined to throw 212 pitches over five innings apiece. The nine walks they issued played a significant role in both their pitch counts and the pace of play.

The teams failed to play any of the four games in under three hours.

Thank goodness for all those pace-of-play initiatives.

Seriously. Just imagine how long the games would have been without them.

The Rangers are probably thankful they don’t have to play the Twins again.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 6-3 loss and a four-game sweep.

No defending that

The last thing the Twins need is extra outs, so the Rangers’ defense didn’t do their pitchers any favors during the series.

The Rangers committed six errors that led to 10 unearned runs. One of the errors Saturday was on starting pitcher Ariel Jurado, and it accounted for six of the unearned runs.

But pitchers are supposed to play defense, too. Greg Maddux won 18 Gold Gloves in his Hall of Fame career, and as a Rangers special assistant a few years back he would tell pitchers that his goal was to make three plays a game.

Three easy outs would then allow him to pitch deeper into games.

What a concept!

The defensive woes were spread throughout the infield. Rougned Odor dropped a popup Friday that led to an unearned run in a one-run loss. Danny Santana, sharing first-base duties with Logan Forsythe committed two errors in the first three innings Sunday. Forsythe had an error Thursday at third that led to three unearned runs.

Ronald Guzman is a potential Gold Glove winner at first base, but he was shipped to Triple A Nashville last month to get his bat going. It’s going again, but he might not return until rosters expand Sept. 1.

The two Santana errors didn’t lead to any unearned runs, but they helped push Lance Lynn’s pitch count. So did Willie Calhoun’s first-inning misplay in left field that turned a flyout into a two-run double for Marwin Gonzalez.

Winning teams don’t repeatedly fail to make plays, at least not every often. As manager Chris Woodward said Saturday night, the Rangers need to play better.

When Minor, Lynn don’t win

For those wondering what happens when the Rangers don’t win game started by Mike Minor and Lynn, the answer was revealed Sunday.

The Rangers find themselves in a losing streak.

They lost both games started by their two best pitchers to the Twins, who left town with a four-game sweep that knocked the Rangers four games under .500 (60-64).

Each pitched well enough for the Rangers to win. It was the rest of the Rangers didn’t do well enough in those games. Throw in lousy starts by Pedro Payano and Jurado, and the Rangers have a four-game losing streak.

Lynn needed 112 pitches to finish five innings, but he somehow allowed only three runs and should have allowed only one. He said he didn’t pitch well enough, which he always does when the Rangers lose on of his starts.

Minor pretty much always says he doesn’t pitch well enough.

But they have regularly kept the Rangers in games while the other starters have been hit or miss, and mostly miss. Kolby Allard will start Monday against the Los Angeles Angels, and fellow rookie left-handers Brock Burke and Joe Palumbo will start the Tuesday doubleheader before Minor goes Wednesday.

There could be some more misses directly ahead.

(The over/under on Mike Trout homers vs. four straight lefties is 3.5.)

Pleasant development

As the Rangers shuttle pitchers in and out of their bullpen, they have stumbled across two relievers who might play a role in 2020.

Rafael Montero has found a role as a late-innings reliever, and fellow right-hander Taylor Guerrieri has become a trusted middle reliever.

He held the Twins scoreless over the sixth and seventh innings after Lynn exited, and Shin-Soo Choo tied the game in the seventh with his 20th homer of the season.

Guerrieri pitched well again in a spot that had given the Rangers trouble all season. They haven’t wanted to use one of their winning pieces there, and they’ve needed someone reliable who can keep a game close.

Montero is working with Emmanuel Clase and Jose Leclerc to lock down leads. Montero entered Sunday with 7 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings and had struck out nine of his past 14 batters faced.

Clase struggled Sunday in the eighth, allowing a three-run triple to break the 3-3 tie. It’s worth remembering that he opened the season at Low A Hickory and skipped Triple A.

He’s not a lock for the 2020 bullpen, though he’ll get every chance to win what should be one of several available spots.

Montero is in the same boat, though he might safely in it. The Rangers will need a bevy of 40-man roster spots in the off-season, so they will have a decision to make on Guerrieri.

If he continues to pitch well, he’ll make it easy on them.

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After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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